Sunday, May 30, 2010


If there is a standard bearer of what could be called the typical Texas Fishing Knife, I'd have to submit the Buck Hunter as my leading candidate.
It's what's been in my tackle boxes (and another in a tool box, for that matter) since my high school days. For many years, car repairs would have been far more difficult without the Buck Hunter, and all of the sportsman I knew, be they hunters or fishermen, all carried this knife.
Certain types in my high school days carried these knives in belt holsters at all times, while most of the rest of us only had them strapped on during fishing or hunting activities or when doing chores at the place, like cutting open feed bags to feed the animals. The FFA folks, the motorcycle riding folks, the kids who lived and worked on family farms and many of the hot rodders carried their knives on their belts, and in those days at my school, pocket knives were ok and legal belt knives were ok.
Since the blade was 4" long, it was within legal length in Texas for a knife carried on the person. I didn't care much for wearing one unless I was fishing or out at one of our family places where a large knife would come in handy. But a lot of folks did and of course, no one ever attacked or threatened anyone. But back then at my school, your truck gun rack could be full and again, no one cared because no one was going beserko.
Lots of folks lived on farms in that area at that time, and their trucks usually had a .22 rifle and a shotgun of some sort and a CB radio, along with the obligatory cattle prod and lariet hanging from the rear window gun rack. During deer season, the deer rifles replaced the .22's in these folks racks, and in bird season they often had twin shotguns back in their window racks.
All of these guys also carried Buck Hunter knifes in belt pouches. They were up before school, feeding horses and cattle and hogs and the like, and their knife was an essential tool in their lives.
When I was a young police officer in Houston, most law officers I knew carried a Buck Hunter in a single .45 Auto magazine pouch located immediately behind their pistol, as a back up weapon. It was an "unofficial" standard piece of gear, although you had to buy your own knife and magazine pouch.
I was using my police days knife this weekend for a in house project. I keep it in the small toolbox that I keep in the house for minor repairs and adding batteries and the like. Thirty years on, it's in great shape.
Likewise, the first Hunter I bought, and they sold in the mid-70's for like $20 or $25, which was pricey then, resides in my tackle boxes. I have a bag of knives and pliers that move from box to box, so that when I go from freshwater to saltwater and such, my tools always come with me and remain the same.
If you're a Texas man, or one of the many other men the world over who appreciate the need for a good knife, and really, for several knives at a a time, then you understand how historic the Buck Hunter is and was in the sporting history of knife use, and at least in Texas, it was a part of life in both the big city like Houston as well as out in the sticks.
The Buck Hunter is one of those tools. It is hardy enough to hack at frozen mullet, and it's a stout enough knife that the butt end can be used to slam or pound various items in a pinch. I've busted open various mussels before to extract bait with it's butt, and it's in used but excellent shape. I've used it to help me do all kinds of emergency car repairs. It's a great tool.
I still carry the Buck with me as my primary knife when I'm out fishing. Like the Texas Ghostrider mentioned in a recent post, I've usually got several knives in the vicinity at any given time, from Spiderco to Benchmade to Boker to many other types.
Every man I knew as a child in Houston carried a pocket knife. Good men and bad men. Men on both sides of the law often carried a serious folding knife to augment their handgun(s), and as TGR would agree, lawmen saw the need to carry more than one type of knife in the law enforcement world.
One of my father's brothers, a dear man nicknamed Hux, lived near his entire life in East Texas outside of Tyler, save for a period in WWII when the Navy took him places where he saw and did things he didn't like to talk about. He and another older brother both saw combat action in the Pacific, and my dad was still a kid at home at that time.
I heard whatever stories they allowed secondhand through my father, and frankly, good and decent men like that didn't do a lot of story telling when they got back from that war. I don't care what theater of action you were in, men came back, they put it out of their minds as much as they could, and got on with life.
But one time when my Uncle Hux had me running a midnight trotline with him in Lake Palestine, he got his hand bad caught in the trotline and a couple of hooks from a thrashing big cat. Quick as a flash, he pulled his Buck Hunter from it's weathered and sagging pouch, used his huge thumbnail on his huge hand to flick it open one handedly, and cut the line from around his hand, He still had hooks in his hand, but at least they were not tearing his skin from the nearby trot line attached fish having a dance party on the bottom of his boat.
Uncle Hux quickly directed me to his old Montgomery Wards metal tackle box, which held a pair of serious barb wire cutters. He cut the barbs off of the hooks in his hand and got the hooks out. Cussed a bit and then asked me what lesson I learned. I told him have a Buck knife and a pair of wire cutters in my tackle box, and he said I was a smart boy.
I've had a Buck Knife and a pair of serious wire cutters in my tackle box ever since. Although with my selection of fishing pliers, these items make every fishing trip. You don't want to be like actor Brendan O'Connell in one of the Mummy sequels, driving home from a fishing trip with a nice big fly stuck in the side of your neck.

1 comment:

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